Limitation Periods and Timing of Decisions for Workers' Compensation (7:V)
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|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by the Law Students' Legal Advice Program on August 1, 2023.|
WCB deadlines are both short and generally strict, so while there are reminders throughout this section outlining relevant deadlines, they are all collected here for quick reference. Steps 3–7 are only as applicable.
- Report the claim to the employer: Do this as soon as possible. Even small delays can prejudice your claim. See WCA s. 149 [Former Act, s. 53].
- File a claim with WCB: Any claim must be filed within 1 year of the date of injury. If a claim is filed later than one year afterward, it may be accepted if it meets the criteria of “special circumstances” under sections 151 and 152 of the WCA [Former Act, s. 55]. One such example would be a worker who sought legal assistance and their lawyer failed to file a claim at their instruction. Another would be where a worker was either unaware of the ability to make a claim or unable to do so, so long as the lack of awareness or inability was reasonable. Note that even if a claim is accepted, if the application is filed more than three years late, the Board will only pay compensation from the date of the application forward, not from the date of the injury.
- Reconsideration of Board decision: The Board may reconsider a decision for any reason within 75 days of the date of that decision. The Board may reconsider a decision at any time if it contains an obvious error or omission. This is a significant change to the Board’s reconsideration powers resulting from amendments that came into force January 1, 2021. Outside of these two exceptions, a Board decision can only be changed by an appeal body. See WCA s. 123 [Former Act, s. 96(4)–(6)].
- Appeal to the Review Division: The time limit for applying for an Internal Review with the Review Division is 90 days. Workers seeking appeal must always file a Request for Review with the Review Division within 90 days of the date of the decision being reviewed. Workers are not required to submit arguments or evidence at the Request for Review stage, and are only required to file the Request for Review form, which includes some basic information and a brief description of what remedy they are seeking and why. Therefore, if the 90-day limit is approaching, it is far more important to submit the Request for Review on time than it is to ensure you have fully stated your reasons for review—those can always be added later. If a worker has missed the 90-day time limit, they should file the Request for Review and request an extension, providing reasons for why they are late. The Chief Review Officer may grant an extension of time if good reasons are shown and an injustice would result if the extension is not granted. Extension of Time applications are not usually successful. See WCA s. 270 [Former Act, s. 96.2(3)–(5)]. Most Internal Review Decisions must be made within 5 months (150 days). The WCA now requires that the internal review officers complete their review of the Board’s decision within 150 days of the date when the request for review was made. See WCA s. 272(6) [Former Act, s. 96.4(6)].
- Reconsideration by the Review Division: The Chief Review Officer may direct a reconsideration of a Review Division Decision on their own initiative within 23 days of the initial decision. While it is the Chief Review Officer who must decide whether or not to issue this direction, a party can write to the Review Division and request a reconsideration. Once an appeal to WCAT has been filed, no reconsideration can occur. In the case of a decision that cannot be appealed to WCAT, a party may apply to the Chief Review Officer for reconsideration on the basis of new evidence. See WCA s. 273 [Former Act, s. 96.5].
- Appeal to WCAT: The time limit for appealing to WCAT is 30 days. If a worker or employer is unhappy with the outcome of a Review Division Decision, they must appeal to WCAT within 30 days of the Review Division Decision being issued. Appeals related to prohibited action complaints may be filed within 90 days. This timeline may be extended where special circumstances prevented timely filing, and an injustice would otherwise result. See WCA s. 293 [Former Act, s. 243].
- Most WCAT Decisions must be made within 6 months (180 days) of receiving the Claim File from the Board. This general time limit can be extended by the Chair due to the complexity of the matter, a request by the worker or employer, or the need to await a pending decision on another claim raising similar legal or policy issues. See WCA s. 306(5) [Former Act, s. 253(5)].
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